One of the critical questions when selecting a time clock is deciding what time clock badge to use with it. ATS time clocks work with a variety of badge types and badge manufacturers. It goes without saying that you need to ensure that the specific badge manufacturer and model you choose works with your selected time clocks. However, before you reach that stage, you should think about what badge type makes sense for your company. They each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Clarify all the ways your company wants to use the badge.
The badge's central purpose may be to punch in and out at the time clock. Yet that often serves other needs as well.
- Is this also going to be an ID badge? Will it need to contain an image and readable information?
- Will it also be used to control physical access to certain areas or assets? Proximity badges are often used when access control is an issue. This is especially true when a company also wants to know where its workers are. Because proximity badges communicate automatically when they come within read range of a reader, they passively track worker location.
- How much data do you want it to store? Will it just be the employee number, or other information like location or department?
List out all the functions you need the badge to fulfill so you can go over that list with badge vendors. Make sure they specify exactly how their badge will work for each function.
Think about where and how often the badge will get used.
This issue is tangentially related to how your employees will use their badge. If they will have to use it constantly throughout the day to enter different areas or use the copying machine, durability is a key issue. Even if they'll just be using it as a time clock badge, the environment, say a factory or construction site, may cause some wear and tear on it.
Sketch out what your badge replacement process will be and who will be responsible for it.
Some badge types are simpler to replace or re-encode with the necessary information. For example, barcode badge types can work with the barcodes printed on a sticker and attached to physical badge. This makes barcodes popular options for companies that want badges to serve multiple purposes. You can attach a barcode to a proximity badge or to an ID badge.
However, barcode stickers are relatively fragile. The ink can smudge. The corners can start to turn up. There are plenty of ways sticker degradation can interfere with the reader's ability to read the sticker. The good news, it's just a sticker. Based on your company HR resources and workflows, generating new barcode stickers may be simple or not. The point is, think about how your company will manage its badge replacement process during your selection process.
Make sure you understand the differences between the three main time clock badge types.
We’ve mentioned two badge types in passing: the proximity and barcode badge types. The third is a magstripe badge. You can read here about each one works and stores its data. Here's a short list of some of the differences among them:
- Durability: Magstripes and barcodes damage more easily than proximity cards. How easily replaced they are depends on the type of damage and how your badge works. A barcode sticker can be easily printed out, but what if you printed the bar code directly on the badge? Magstripes and proximity badges can become demagnetized. In some cases if that happens, they'll just need to be re-encoded with the data. If the magstripe is physically damaged, then the entire card will need to be replaced.
On the other hand, proximity cards have physical layers, making it potentially possible that very fine dust can get inside and damage the metallic chip inside. This is a non-issue in an office, but perhaps something to think about for a manufacturing plant.
- Speed: Proximity badges move people through the line faster than magstripe or barcodes. Magstripe badge always needs to be either swiped or inserted, so they’re the slowest option.
- Data customization: Each proximity badge comes with a unique embedded number in it, although additional data can be added to it. Magstripes and barcodes are entirely customizable.
One last issue to keep in mind is whether you want to use a time clock badge at all? If your company has high security needs and/or a high volume of employees it needs to get on shift quickly, you might want to think about using biometric or facial recognition readers. That's an entirely different discussion! You can learn a bit more about that here. If you want to have a more detailed discussion on time clock badges and your company's requirements, feel free to reach out to one of our experts.
"While ATS is passionate about time and attendance and excited to support organizations navigate workforce dynamics around timekeeping, we recommend you reach out to your country, regional and/or local HR chapter for more information on common workplace advice and procedures."